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TSA Says Peanut Butter's a Liquid—Along With These 5 Surprising Items

Any of these "liquids" could get you flagged at airport security.

It's common knowledge at this point that you can't take large liquids with you through airport security. Back in Aug. 2006, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) banned all liquids, gels, and aerosols from carry-on bags, amending the rule a month later to allow only those smaller than 3.4 ounces. While the sizing requirements are plain and simple, there's still some gray area around what actually qualifies as a liquid. After a traveler's tweet went viral, a debate ensued about peanut butter—prompting TSA to chime in and confirm that jars of Jif and Skippy are, in fact, liquids. This may not be in line with your own definition, so read on for five other surprising items that TSA says fall under the same category.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Surprising Items TSA May Flag You for at Airport Security.

TSA says nut butter is "spreadable."

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Peanut butter made headlines last month when author and podcaster Patrick Neve tweeted about his airport security experience. As reported by The Washington Post, Neve's Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter was confiscated—and that's where things got confusing.

"I tried to take peanut butter through airport security," Neve's March 15 tweet reads. "TSA: Sorry, no liquids, gels, or aerosols. Me: I want you to tell me which of those things you think peanut butter is."

TSA actually posted on Instagram to confirm that peanut butter is considered a liquid because it "has no definite shape and takes a shape dictated by its container." R. Carter Langston, press secretary for TSA, also confirmed this in a statement to Best Life.

"Peanut Butter is considered to be a 'spreadable,' so it falls under the rule associated with liquids, gels, and aerosols," Langston said. "As such, its quantity is limited to 3.4 ounces in carry-on bags. As we frequently seek to remind travelers: If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it—then it's subject to the 3.4-ounce limitation."

Peanut butter's BFF isn't safe either: Jams are liquids, according to TSA.

"Be sure they get packed in your checked luggage, because they are considered liquids—even if they're shrink-wrapped in a gift set and completely sealed!" Taylor Beal, owner and author of the travel blog Traverse With Taylor, says. "Luckily, if they're the small sample kind, you can slip them into your liquids bag as long as they are less than 3.4 ounces."

Find these surprising? Buckle up, as the rest of this list might be equally puzzling.

Glow sticks

glow sticks
bluesnote / Shutterstock

Glow sticks are a welcome addition to any outdoor gathering, Fourth of July celebration, or concert. But when traveling, glow sticks must be stowed in checked luggage if the liquid inside the plastic container is greater than 3.4 ounces.

"Glow sticks must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-on bags," TSA's "What Can I Bring?" page states. "Please place them in a single, quart-size bag with other liquids, gels and aerosols."

READ THIS NEXT: 8 Airport Security Secrets TSA Doesn't Want You to Know.


bowl of guacamole
VDB Photos/Shutterstock

Much like peanut butter, guacamole also falls under the "liquids" designation, Langston told Best Life—but the rule doesn't apply to avocados that have yet to be turned into a delicious dip.

"There is no limit to avocados that may be carried aboard aircraft in carry-on luggage; however, only 3.4 ounces of guacamole are permitted in carry-on bags," Langston said.

If you want to bring salsa for your chips instead, take care, as this spicy sauce is also a TSA-mandated liquid.

Snow globes

snow globe on table
New Africa / Shutterstock

Snow globes are a great gift, and they also happen to be a common souvenir. But if you want to bring one of these glass domes home to a loved one, stow it in your checked luggage.

"I loved snow globes as a kid, so I know they make great gifts," Cheryl Nelson, certified lifestyle and travel preparedness expert, and founder of Prepare with Cher, LLC, previously told Best Life. "However, if your snow globe is bigger than a tennis ball, don't pack it in your carry-on luggage. Since snow globes are considered liquids, they also have to be less than 3.4 ounces, and the entire snow globe including the base must fit in your quart-sized bag."

If your snow globe is small enough, don't wrap it just yet either. "If a wrapped gift looks suspicious on an x-ray machine, the only person unwrapping your perfectly wrapped gift will be the TSA screening agent," Nelson said.

Certain exfoliators

Alina Kruk / Shutterstock

If you have a thin face wash or cleanser, you likely recognize that it needs to follow TSA's requirements for liquids. However, if you have a thicker exfoliant, be warned that the rules still apply.

"I once had exfoliating face wash (it has kind of a goopy rather than liquidy texture) tossed away by TSA, much to my dismay!" travel expert Becca Siegel, of, tells Best Life. "Travelers should know that any item that is able to be squirted in a semi-liquid state is not considered to be a solid item when going through airport security."

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three bowls of hummus

According to TSA, hummus is certainly a liquid (it's spreadable, after all), but sometimes it ends up making it through.

"I've definitely had … conflicting experiences with hummus," Julie S. Lalonde tweeted on March 16. "50% of the time, no problem. The other half, confiscated."

In response, Heather Taffet Gold, PhD, tweeted that she also had hummus taken by TSA at San Francisco International Airport because she forgot about a workaround.

"I had hummus confiscated too," she tweeted. "But if we had put it on bread etc before the security line, we coulda kept it."

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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